On October 28, 2004, the Department received a complaint under state and federal special education law from XXXXX against the School District of Marinette. This is the department's decision regarding that complaint. The issues are identified and addressed below.
- Whether the district, in March 2004, properly notified the parents of an individualized education program (IEP) team meeting.
The parent maintains that the district conducted an IEP team meeting on March 5, 2004, without properly notifying the parents. The district sent several written notices for IEP team meetings to the parents. The first scheduled meeting was cancelled at parent request. The second meeting, for March 5, was cancelled because it was a snow day for the district. On March 5, the district sent the parents another notice for an IEP team meeting to be held several days later. One of the student's parents, accompanied by another family member, attended the IEP team meeting on the day set in the notice dated March 5. The district properly notified the parents of the IEP team meeting.
The parent alleges that the documentation of IEP team evaluation determinations has internal discrepancies. The parent concludes from these discrepancies that continuing eligibility was determined on March 5, rather than March 9. The evaluation report, form I-5, indicates that the eligibility determination was made on March 5, rather than March 9, the date of the IEP team meeting. The additional documentation required when a child is evaluated for specific learning disabilities, form I-6, includes signatures of individuals not noted on the March 9 cover sheet, form I-2, and staff noted on the March 9 form I-2 did not sign form I-6. The department concludes that the IEP team which met on March 9 made the eligibility determinations documented in the evaluation reports. The district has agreed to provide the parent, and the department, with corrected copies of forms I-2, I-5 and I-6.
- Whether the district, in March 2004, properly determined that the student no longer is a child with a cognitive disability, that the student is a child with a specific learning disability and included required participants on the IEP team which made these determinations.
The IEP team which met in March 2004 determined the student's continuing eligibility to receive special education services. The team concluded that the student no longer is a child with a cognitive disability. It also determined that the student continues to have two other disabilities and that the student has a specific learning disability. The previous eligibility determination did not conclude that the student has a learning disability. The parent maintains that the team should not have determined that the student no longer is a child with a cognitive disability and should not have added a specific learning disability. The parent also asserts that the team did not include participants qualified to make these determinations, including that personnel qualified to make medical determinations should have been on the IEP team.
The IEP team included nine district teaching and related services staff: a district representative authorized to commit resources, a regular education teacher, a teacher with licenses in cognitive disabilities and specific learning disabilities, a speech and language therapist, a school psychologist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, a specialized physical education therapist, and a designated vocational instructor. The teacher with dual licenses has been the student's special education teacher for several years. This teacher administered several assessment testing tools with the student and submitted a report and summary of the testing results and of her observations as the student's teacher. The school psychologist also administered multiple tests of the student's abilities and submitted a report of the results and summary of findings. Other IEP team participants conducted assessments and submitted written summaries of their findings. The assessments provided information the team needed to make the eligibility determinations which the parent challenges.
The team completed worksheets recommended by the department in making its eligibility determinations and developed a report regarding eligibility. The tests, results, findings, and reports support the team's conclusions that the student is not a child with a cognitive disability and is a child with a specific learning disability. The IEP includes extensive documentation for these determinations. While a district may decide to include medical personnel as IEP team participants, the law does not require the district to do so. The team which met in March 2004 included required participants who are qualified to conduct assessments and interpret the educational implications of evaluation results. The district met requirements for these three issues.
- Whether the district, in March 2004, properly determined the student's need for physical education services, for one-to-one assistance and for specially designed vocational education.
The present levels of performance in the March 2004 IEP indicate that the student is able to participate in regular physical education with some assistance, and that he will complete all physical education requirements during the 2003-2004 school year. The team discussed whether the student should participate in physical education as an elective but decided that this would conflict with his anticipated class schedule. In September, the student's teacher responded to an emailed question from the parent indicating that if the parent prefers that the student not participate in one of several classes, she would arrange for him to take physical education. The IEP team determined that the student does not require specially designed physical education. The team discussed the student's continuation of physical education and had a valid reason for rejecting it. The team properly determined whether the student would continue with physical education. The district offered to place the student in a physical education class at parent request and indicates that this change will be made if the parent requests it.
The present levels of performance in the March 2004 IEP indicate that the student requires aide assistance at all times with note taking, assignments, and test taking. This statement was made in reference to regular education classes. The present levels continue by indicating that the student will have aide assistance during the 2004-2005 school year for specifically noted regular education classes. The district has provided an aide in those classes this year and anticipates providing an aide for second semester classes identified in the IEP. While the department recommends describing this type of assistance on the services pages of the IEP, form I-14, state and federal law provide that information contained in one portion of the IEP need not be repeated in another portion of the IEP. The district clearly stated its commitment of aide assistance and has provided the service this year. In response to the parent's complaint that aide assistance is not noted on the services pages, the district has agreed to repeat its commitment of this resource there and will provide the parent, and the department, with a copy of the revised IEP pages.
The IEP provides that the student will participate in regular vocational education classes. The IEP indicates that a designated vocational instructor will be available to the student for assistance in a course which will be offered second semester. The parent believes the student requires aide support in other vocational classes and refers to a portion of a vocational education report submitted by one of the IEP team participants as support for his belief. The individual who wrote the vocational education report responded to the complaint stating that the report does not indicate that the student requires aide support in vocational classes. The parent also believes that vocational goals in the IEP indicate the student requires aide support in vocational classes. Short-term objectives in several goals either indicate that the student will receive assistance or teacher assistance. The objectives do not indicate the student will receive aide assistance. As was true for aide assistance in other classes, the present levels of performance in the IEP discuss the student's support needs. The IEP team properly considered the student's need for additional support in vocational classes and documented its conclusions. The parent may request an IEP team meeting if he believes the student requires additional support in vocational classes.
- Whether the district, in March 2004, properly documented the IEP team's determination for the student's use of a computer.
The IEP developed in March 2004 addresses the student's use of a computer. The related services portion of the IEP specifies times when the student may use a computer in the special education classroom. The program modifications or supports for school personnel section requires use of a computer for written assignments that require more than one-word answers. The parent's concern is that the location where the computer may be used as a related service is in the special education classroom, while the location for program modifications and supports for school personnel is in general education and special education classes.
The parent raised this concern with the department regarding the previous IEP. The district responded that the decision of the IEP team was that the computer would be available to the student in the special education classroom. District staff interviewed for this investigation indicated that the IEP team made the same determination on March 9. Because the parent continues to be uncertain whether the student has access to a computer in the regular education or special education environment and because the IEP does not reflect the district's response to the earlier inquiry, the district must provide the parent with a corrected copy of the IEP clearly indicating the IEP team decision. In doing so, the district should consider whether the computer use currently recorded as a program modification and support for school personnel is actually a supplementary aid to be recorded on form I-14, section III. The district will provide the department with copies of the new IEP pages described in this decision no later than January 17, 2005.
This concludes our review of this complaint.
//signed CST 12/22/04
Carolyn Stanford Taylor
Assistant State Superintendent
Division for Learning Support: Equity and Advocacy